Saturday, April 23, 2011

socialist Bible verse of the day: Mark 10:21-27, Matthew 19:21-26, Luke 18:22-27

In the books of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, Jesus gives advice to a man who is admirable in every way but one: he's rich. Jesus tells him:
Mark 10:21 One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Matthew 19:21 If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Luke 18:22 Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
The rich man goes away sad because he can't give up his possessions. Jesus then stresses his point:
Mark 10:24-25: Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:23-24: Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Luke 18:24-25: How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Rich people try to rationalize that in several ways. Some say "the eye of a needle" was a narrow gate that a laden camel could barely squeeze through. Others say "camel" is a mistranslation of the Aramaic word for rope. But we know the names of Jerusalem's gates, right down to shit gate. There was no gate called The Eye of the Needle. And even if Jesus had meant a rope instead of a camel, a rope still won't go through the eye of a needle. The meaning of his metaphor is simple and clear: it's impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.

That idea was extremely clear to Jesus's followers. Apparently forgetting for a moment that they had all already done exactly what Jesus advised, at least one asked how, if that was so, anyone could be saved. Jesus answered:
Mark 27: With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Matthew 26: With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Luke 27: The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
Rich people rationalize that by saying God will make a special exception for them. But the meaning is much simpler: Some rich people will eventually realize that in God's kingdom, everyone shares. Whether the rich young man who walked away sadly ever took Jesus's advice to give up his wealth, we don't know. But Jesus offered this hope to all communists: with God, all things are possible.